Blog: Lambert stresses the work has only just begun
Paul Brown on building for the future.
17th May 2013
Blog: Lambert stresses the work has only just begun

Paul Lambert stresses over and over in his pre-match press conference that he is totally focused on the final day clash against Wigan.

But it's fair to say that once the final whistle blows, the driven, determined and focused manager will have one thing in his sights - "building for the future".

Lambert was appointed in June 2012 and immediately set about revitalising the playing squad.

As he surveyed the scene ahead of the current campaign, he opted for the pragmatic approach of bringing through academy graduates like Andreas Weimann and Nathan Baker as well as acquiring the services of previously unheralded talents like Ashley Westwood and Matt Lowton.

This coincided with his footballing philosophy - the need to build a young, emerging, hungry squad which would engage with the fanbase.

His approach also knitted perfectly with the top-level strategy of building again for the future.

Pundits questioned the direction the club were taking and then hammered the team over the festive fall-out, which included a 3-0 home loss to this weekend's opponents Wigan.

But Lambert never backed down and never voiced concern, instead praising the progress made by his players and his intense belief that they would survive the rigours of, what for many, would be their first term in the top-flight and strive to try and finish as high as possible in the toughest league in the world.

Some scoffed. They're not now as Villa find themselves with a chance of finishing the season in a very healthy position with a win on the final day.

Other managers would allow themselves a wee dram to toast the significant progress made during the rollercoaster ride of a campaign.

Not Lambert. He only has eyes on next term and making Villa an even more competitive outfit on the field.

"It's been bit by bit. It's been a building block - a small block - but you have to start somewhere.

"What we have done is there for all to see.

"This club has been in a transitional period. It's still in process now. It's about developing.

"It's been really, really tough but we have come through it.

"We never deviated from our philosophy in the games. We have kept with it.

"It's been about developing plus getting results in the hardest league in the world. For that, the team deserve unbelievable credit.

"We wanted to create an environment where the standards were really, really high and everyone knew what was expected of them. That's what you had to do plus get results, which we have done.

"I think football clubs have to evolve. We have to strive. We have laid a bit of a foundation. Now we have to build again.

"Sometimes you have to go back to go forward. That's certainly what's happened.

"We had to develop it as a club again. Villa have had an incredible history but periods end and you have to start again.

"It's been really tough at certain times where you're thinking 'dear oh dear, we're not getting a result here' but you hang in. We did that - myself, the staff, the players - we pulled together and the fans went with it too.

Lambert presser

"Randy and Paul have been a great support. I have a great relationship with the two of them.

"When I spoke to Randy way back, I knew the remit of it and the parameters of it. I knew what we had to try and do.

"The good thing is Randy knew himself what we had to go through. He was exactly right what he said to me. But we all knew it was in transition. We knew we had to develop it."

Lambert will send his players off on holiday next week but, ever the professional, he admits he won't be switching off anytime soon because there's so much work to be done ahead of another season that will be upon us before we know it.

The boss insists he will continue to grow the team and the club on and off the field.

"The players will go away and deserve a break. They have to recharge and get ready for another one. Before you know it, you're back in it.

"For the manager, it never stops. You keep going and never look back. That's something I will try and do.

"There is still a lot of work to do here. We have to keep building this.

"I have to develop it.

"It's about getting players who are hungry and want to achieve it and do it.

"You don't stop. That's the next step. It's not a small project. My job is to keep doing it.

"Look at our philosophy of bringing young lads in. Matt Lowton, Ashley Westwood, Yacouba Sylla, Christian Benteke - look at their values now! Each and every one of them.

"Brad Guzan was second choice. How many games did Andi Weimann play last year? Now he's played a full season.

"Gabby Agbonlahor has stepped up. Fabian Delph has played a host of games for us. Nathan Baker too.

"You could throw every one of them in with their contribution to this season.

"But their value? I am pretty sure it is healthier than when they came in.

"I think people can get caught up in the Premier League and get wrapped in it and think you've got to be a certain type of player to survive in it. But as I say, you don't know if you don't give people an opportunity."

One constant source of inspiration for Lambert has been the fan fervour for the team.

Lambert has been thrilled with the support from the stands and insists this gives him an extra spring in his step as he tackles the exciting job of continuing the immense progress already made.

"I could sense it from day one with the Villa crowd that they wanted us to do well. Even in the hard times they stuck with it. And ever since, they have been absolutely fantastic.

"They have seen what we have been doing here. You wouldn't get 42,000 in the stadium if they weren't behind it. They have been absolutely brilliant.

"They can see a young team that are getting better and better.

"Sir Alex Ferguson said it himself: "If you have young players and they stick with you for a few years naturally you're going to get a really good side."

That's what Lambert is aiming for. He won't stop until he achieves it.

paul brown, blogs,
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